Huffington Post blogger Kergan Edwards-Stout posted an interview with Azaan Kamau, editor of the new anthology,“Letters To My Bully.” Mr. Edwards-Stout wrote the preface to the anthology as well as a letter to his own bully. He was the target of cruel bullying for years after coming out as a gay teen.
After reading Mr. Edwards-Stouts letter, I sat teary-eyed at my desk. Empathy. It was powerful, poetic with a twinge of sadness and regret. His voice, as well as the thousands who are/have been targeted, need to be heard.
The LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender) Community has rallied to let their younger members know, it gets better. As an intern at The Door several years ago, I was witness to hundreds of LGBTQ (Q for Questioning) young people coming together in a safe space, finally being able to be their authentic selves without judgment. During my time there as a counseling intern, I learned how invaluable it is for a young person to know that a responsive and empathetic adult is there for them. I learned the power of empathy.
Without having a safe space, young people cannot become who they innately are, therefore making it harder to have healthy, fulfilling lives as adults.
Bullying is not only a “gay issue,” but an issue about being different from the status quo. The inability of others to tolerate the differences among us creates bullying and allows it to flourish. These differences, as is the case with Mr. Edwards-Stout’s bully, reflected back a young man who was brave enough to be himself despite the vitriolic hate targeted at him.
What makes it hard to tolerate the differences? Are we concerned that if we are not all alike, we will be misunderstood? Are our own insecurities too difficult to bear that we must project them on to one another? Part of how we can all beat the bully is to foster empathy within us. While I have not read “Letters To My Bully“ yet, I can surmise from Mr. Edwards-Stout’s letter that the anthology is a must read for anyone involved with young people. His letter is not in the anthology but I’m eager to read the letters that are.